Keeping your puppy fit
Diet and exercise: how to ensure your puppy grows into a fit and healthy dog
There are so many things you will have learnt about your new puppy when you first brought him home, not the least of which was be his diet. What you choose to feed him will depend on both of you, but bear in mind that a growing puppy needs more calories, minerals, protein and vitamins than a grown up dog.
There are so many commercial pet foods out there these days, and the price and quality varies hugely. So that you can make the best and right choice for your puppy, it will help if you have an understanding of the composition of the foods available.
What's on the menu for your puppy?
Chicken, liver, soy, rice, corn and oil. These are the raw materials that go into your puppy's food. But it's the quality of the ingredients that determines the digestibility and nutritional value of the diet you choose.
These ingredients provide the essential nutrients for your puppy: protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. But it's important that these nutrients are in the correct proportions. Unsurprisingly, some pet foods have incorrect and unsuitable proportions of these nutrients, and poor quality, hard-to-digest ingredients. For more information on important ingredients click here.
There's such a vast number of different foods to choose from today, you might have difficulty knowing what's best for your puppy; it's almost certainly a good idea to ask your vet for advice before you decide.
How do you feed your puppy?
Sounds like a silly question, doesn't it? Far from it. As a matter of fact, there are several ways to feed dogs.
First, you need to decide whether you want to feed dried or canned food, or a mixture of both. Dry foods are generally more economical, especially for larger breeds of dogs. But both canned and dried foods can be nutritionally complete and balanced. Ask your vet for his advice or recommendation.
Complete? Or complementary?
The label on the food you choose will tell you whether it is complete or complementary. A complete food provides all the goodness your puppy needs and can be fed on its own with water to drink. Complementary food must be mixed with another type of food to provide your puppy with a balanced diet. Just for the record, most puppy foods are complete.
Exercise: essential for your puppy and good for you
When your puppy has had his course of vaccinations, you'll be keen to get him out and about. Exercise is vital. Not only does it help develop physical fitness, it is also mentally stimulating, and provides social contact. Click here to find out more about socialisation.
Before setting out, decide on a suitable lead; maybe an extendable one until you're sure your puppy won't run off, or a harness if he pulls a lot.
Then you'll have to do a bit of homework to find out which parks and gardens allow dogs off the lead. Large country parks and fields can be great for dogs, but check they can let off the lead, and watch out for livestock. And don't forget the poop scoop.
Please don't overdo it
Daily exercise will develop your puppy's muscle strength and stamina but don't overdo things. Short, frequent walks are the order of the day. Although you may be tempted to roam the great outdoors with your new companion, remember he's still only a baby, and growing all the time. So try not to save all the "walkies" for long treks and weekends; they will overtire your puppy and can lead to bone and joint problems.
It cannot be overemphasised how important it is to control the rate and frequency of exercise. If you're at all unsure how much exercise is too much for your puppy, please ask your vet for advice and guidance.